The Soups of Others

For anyone on tenterhooks about which soup I have made this weekend, let me end your suspense. I haven't made soup, but this is the May bank holiday and tomorrow is another day off, so there's a still a chance.

Three of us headed off to the west of Ireland with no definite plan in mind, just that we would visit the Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Co Roscommon ( arrived there at 2pm and decided to have lunch. The menu included "home made soup" and I checked verbally that it was home made. The spouse and I both ordered it and had to wait a while for it to be served. On tasting it, it was full of ground pepper and not of the freshly milled type, more the commercially produced variety. I suspect the soup was made up of the leftover vegetables cooked for the lunchtime menu and with the pepper added for flavour! It put me in mind of a scene in Alice in Wonderland (Chapter VI - Pig and Pepper):
"`There's certainly too much pepper in that soup!' Alice said to herself, as well as she could for sneezing."
Another unappealing feature was the addition of croutons that were toasted on one side only, with the result that the uncooked sides became saturated by the soup, causing the croutons to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Very disappointing.

We visited the garden and the museum. This photo is of one of the many bees buzzing around what I think was a berberis (see photograph and please correct me if I'm mistaken). It was difficult to take a decent shot as the bees moved surprisingly quickly around the plants. Anyway, our overall impression of the garden and museum was that not quite enough money has been put into either. The famine display in the museum captures man's ongoing inhumanity to man, the abuse of power and the struggle to survive.

Little did we know that the Strokestown International Poetry Festival was taking place the same weekend ( We strolled up along to look at the main entrance to the house and the spouse recognised a poet who hit the headlines in 2008 for reasons not connected specifically with his poetry.

From Strokestown we travelled on to Westport, Co Mayo. We hadn't booked accommodation and the town itself looked busy so we headed on to the quay area. We dropped into the Towers Bar for refreshment (, looked at the menu and decided that we'd book a table for dinner. Then we had to find a place to stay for the night. That done, we headed back to the Towers for dinner.

In my blog of 13th February I wrote about how I always try seafood chowder if I see it on the menu anywhere. I cannot praise the seafood chowder at the Towers highly enough. It was delicious. There were prawns, mussels, some sort of white fish, potato, leeks and lashings of cream in it. Mmmm!


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